PTBNL in Dodgers deal could be in Sox first base platoon

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PTBNL in Dodgers deal could be in Sox first base platoon

The Red Sox have publicly identified first base, left field, and right field (along with starting pitching and shortstop) as areas of need. The offseason will be devoted to filling those spots, along with several other roster vacancies.
 
Free agents Mike Napoli or Adam LaRoche could be the answer at first. In the outfield, the Sox could bring back Cody Ross, or try to lure Torii Hunter or Nick Swisher, or maybe Jason Bay again. Or perhaps Swisher could be the answer at first.
 
Perhaps the answer to one or more of those questions is already in the organization. General manager Ben Cherington said at last weeks GM meetings that Jerry Sands could be a platoon option at first base.

Sands was part of the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers in August, although, as a player to be named later, the Sox did not acquire him until Oct. 4. He was then added to the 40-man roster.
 
Sands, who turned 25 in September, was a 25th-round pick of the Dodgers in 2008 out of Catawba College in North Carolina. He made his big league debut last season, appearing in 61 games. This season he appeared in nine games for the Dodgers.  He has appeared in 47 games in left field, 23 in right, seven at first base, and one in center field for the Dodgers all without making an error.
 
The right-handed batter  has hit a combined .244 with four home runs, 27 RBI, a .325 on-base percentage, and .376 slugging percentage in the big leagues.
 
Listed at 6-feet, 4-four inches, and 225 pounds, Sands runs relatively well for a big guy. He is 3-for-6 in major league stolen base attempts, all in 2011. In the minors, he has 28 stolen bases, getting caught just four times.  In 2010, he was 18-for-20. Last season, though, he was successful in his lone attempt.

Over five minor league seasons, he has hit .289 with a .376 OBP and .562 SLG, playing all three outfield positions, first base, and third base. He has appeared in more games, 173, at first base than any other position. But over the last two seasons -- both at Triple-A - he has appeared in 94 games in left, 89 at first, 52 in right, and one at third base.

In 119 games with Triple-A Albuquerque this season, he hit  .296 with 26 home runs, 107 RBI, .375 OBP, and .524 SLG. In 2012, he played 60 games in left, making one error for a .992 fielding percentage, with 11 assists, 44 games at first base (seven errors, .983 fielding percentage), and 24 errorless games in right field.

His versatility is certainly attractive to the Red Sox. But, what is his best position and what can he offer the Sox offensively? Several scouts weighed in:

I like his power but contact issues are a concern, said one scout. His walks are up, which is a positive. Played a solid left but limited to left fieldright field . He can also play first base, but much better in left field. I was a little higher on his D than most but he is an average defender at best. Runs well for a big man but not a threat. I had him as an extrafourth outfielder  type. Those power numbers in Albuquerque are a little exaggerated due to the light air but he has 20-plus home run power. I do not think he will ever hit for much of an average -- .240 - .250 type.

Sands has been brought up and given a little chance, said another scout at the time of the trade. He always did well in the minor leagues, but never produced. He never impressed the Dodgers enough to keep him in the big leagues.

Hes a big power-type guy. Thats a big part of his game, said a third scout. I think eventually hes going to be OK.  I know the Dodgers had some situations with him where if he doesnt hit, he wants to start changing things, and they were trying to be patient with him doing that. But I think hes going to get everything straightened out, and hes going to be a pretty good offensive-type guy. Hes a playable defensive guy. Hes one of those guys, if he hits and hits for power, his defense is going to be good enough. Hes more of a fringe defender in the outfield. But if he hits 40 home runs, then hes a very good outfielder. I think hes got some promise to him.

Celtics-Hawks preview: Thomas 'not worried about' Schroeder

Celtics-Hawks preview: Thomas 'not worried about' Schroeder

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. –  Isaiah Thomas has respect for the Atlanta Hawks team.

So when I asked him about the Hawks, Thomas spoke glowingly about Paul Millsap as being a “special player” and Dwight Howard having a huge impact on shot attempts whether he’s blocking them or not.

But he knows all eyes will be on him and Hawks point guard Dennis Schroeder who had some not-so-nice things to say about Thomas following Boston’s 103-101 win at Atlanta on Jan. 13.

The two waged a feisty, highly combative game most of the Jan. 13 game with Thomas getting the better of Schroeder in just about every statistical category such as scoring (28 points for Thomas compared to 4 for Schroeder), assists (nine to three), and minutes played (36:16 to 22:36).

And then there was the one statistic that mattered most … the win.

But after the game, Schroeder told reporters that Thomas had spoken badly about his mother.

“I’m playing basketball,” Schroder told reporters after the game in January. “If he think that he got to curse at my mom or say some dumb stuff about my family, that has nothing to do with basketball. That’s his choice. I’ve got too much class for that. Next one, we are going to get it.”

The news got back to Thomas who emphatically denied he said anything along those lines.

“I don’t talk about nobody’s mom,” Thomas said when he became aware of Schroeder’s comments. “I don’t cuss at anybody’s mom and I don’t talk about people’s family. So whatever he said, that’s a 100 percent lie and he knows that.”

When I asked Thomas about Schroeder following Boston’s 104-98 win at Detroit Sunday night, he had little to say about the Hawks point guard.

“Man I’m past that. I’m not worried about that guy,” Thomas said. “Once he did that the last game, where he tried to damage my character, (saying I was) talking about his parents … I’m past that. Hopefully we can beat the Atlanta Hawks. I’m not even worried about him.”

Schroeder may not be on Thomas’ radar as a major concern, but the players he spoke of earlier – Millsap and Howard – are two players who can have a significant impact on whether the Celtics can continue to build off of the good things they did against the Pistons.

And Atlanta (32-26) will come in extremely thirsty for success having lost their last three games – all by 15 or more points - and four of the last five.

Despite the Hawks recent struggles, the Celtics understand that despite their success this season they are in no position to take any team lightly.

“They’re a good team. They play the game the right way,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “They have some really good players, some really good shooters, really good bigs down low. We have to come out and play harder than them, match their intensity, execute, move the ball, share the ball and have fun.”

Shaughnessy: Why I'm not a fan of Celtics not trading at deadline

Shaughnessy: Why I'm not a fan of Celtics not trading at deadline

Dan Shaughnessy joins Sports Sunday and talks with Felger about why he hated the Boston Celtics not making any moves at the deadline.